The International Weightlifting Federation also has welcomed the UAE's progress and expects more Muslim countries to follow the nation's path after it changed its policies last year to allow a one-piece uniform covering the full body. It always allowed a hijab.
"This success is a great achievement for weightlifting and reinforces its ideals of inclusion and openness," IWF President Tamas Ajan said in an e-mail. "The participation of Ms. Mohammed is a driving force to encourage more women to start practicing weightlifting not only within the Gulf Countries, but all around the world."
But the team's success has yet to bring rewards at home.
The federation operates out of a villa and has struggled just to find space for the men's and women's teams to train. They were renting a rundown weight room in a Dubai sports club but have been told that lease will be cancelled later this year. The teams also lack funding to set up adequate training camps outside the country or attend more than a handful of competitions each year.
"I hope the government and federation takes more interest and provide more support for the girls," El Zawawi said. "I feel bad because we don't get any support. I have dreams in the future of four or five girls going to the Olympics. But I need support."
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